“Occupy Facebook With Art”

So I’m minding my own business the other day, scrolling through Facebook (what else), when I see a post by one of my editors, Sharon Dan at Home & Design magazine:

“The idea is to occupy Facebook with art, breaking up all the political posts. Whoever ‘likes’ this post will be given an artist and has to post a piece by that artist on their own page,” it said. Cool, I thought, and hit “Like.” Several minutes later, Sharon awarded me with a DC native, Sam Gilliam.

All of a sudden, I’m scrolling through images of his fearless, colorful multi-media works—several of which I’ve written about in the course of covering homes, because they occupy many private collections here.

Photo from a 2011 article in The Georgetowner about an exhibit of Gilliam’s work at The Phillips Collection

Sharon’s post then got me thinking about other artists as people liked my own post on Gilliam. When my sister liked my post, I “assigned” her to do Gene Davis, one of the founding fathers of the Washington Color School. We recently went to see his “Hot Beat” exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It’s on display through April 2.

My good friend Anne Whipple not only liked my Gilliam post, but requested a specific local artist, Alma Thomas. Her early works are now on exhibit at the Hemphill Gallery on 14th Street:

And then, when designer Mary Douglas Drysdale liked my post, I asked her to feature a work by her own cousin, local artist Maryanne Pollack.

Image from Mary Douglas Drysdale

Mary, one of our region’s top designers (and hugely popular on Facebook), got dozens of likes for posting that picture, whereupon she began handing out more artists. And because she knows so much about art—and local artists in particular—her assignments focused on DC-centric names.

“Hey Celebrating Washington Art and Artists!” she proclaimed.

One of her suggestions, photographer Max MacKenzie, was terribly familiar, as he shoots stunning architectural photography that appears in most of our local magazines and national shelter pubs as well. His fine-art photography hangs in his wife Rebecca Cross’ Georgetown gallery, The Cross MacKenzie Gallery.

copyright, Maxwell MacKenzie

Mary also assigned Leon Berkowitz—a name I knew but had not thought about in a long time. His works can be found at The Phillips Collection:

Berkowitz’s workshop in the 1940s attracted artists such as Gene Davis, whose collaborations later led to the Washington Color School. Another member was Kenneth Noland, a name Mary also recommended to a friend on Facebook. His works are in the Hirshhorn Museum’s permanent collections.

More Color School names I learned anew: V.V. Rankine, whose Peribleptos is on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum:

And Thomas Downing, whose works went on display this weekend (along with Alma Thomas) at Hemphill. They also occupy The Phillips Gallery collections.


I’ve seen a lot of whining on Facebook lately, to the tune of “Make Facebook Fun Again!” But this has been the best distraction by far—an edifying and educational one. Thanks to Sharon Dan for leading the way!


  1. I played this game, at the invitation of Mary Douglas Drysdale, and have had great fun assigning artists to Facebook friends from Thailand to London!